At around 3:00pm on Sunday 25 October 2020, regular Christian speaker Hatun Tash, was punched in the face and knocked unconscious at Speakers Corner, London.
Hatun, a leading member of the Christian ministry ‘Defend Christ Critique Islam’ (DCCI), has been attending Speakers Corner for a number of years, preaching her Christian faith and boldly critiquing Islam. Throughout her time at the Corner, Hatun has suffered a litany of threats, aggression and sexual assaults. She has always responded calmly in the face of these attacks and continued in her strength of faith and message. In recent weeks her critique of Islam has included presenting pictures of some of the front covers of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Hatun has also been at the forefront of highlighting the recent exposure by the leading Muslim scholar Yasir Qadhi, that holes exist in the traditional Muslim narrative of the Quran. Hatun has visually presented this at the Corner by way of a Quran with drilled holes in.
Hatun has utilised her rights of free speech fully over this time, also exerting the legal position as detailed in the infamous Redmond-Bate v DPP case, that legally clarified that no one has the right not to be offended, particularly in the very home of free speech, Speakers Corner, Hyde Park, London.
At around 3:00pm on Sunday 25 October, one male visiting the Corner did not seem aware of either the principle of free speech that exists within the UK or that he has no entitlement not to be offended. Without warning he punched Hatun full in the face, breaking her glasses and knocking her out. Witnesses described how she fell to the ground unconscious, was put in the recovery position and checked for her pulse and breathing. She shortly regained consciousness and was cared for by those present, her face grazed by the punch and her broken glasses.
The alleged assailant, who witnesses claimed to be of Algerian nationality, attempted to immediately run away out of the park. He was swiftly chased by a number of bystanders, one who grabbed him and put him in a headlock. An angry crowd followed as he fought to escape. A few punches fell in the melee.
Throughout this time, no police were present in the vicinity. As the crowd pursued the alleged assailant, three police officers finally arrived. The crowd immediately and collectively identified the alleged assailant to the police who arrested and escorted him to a nearby parked police van.
After some time an ambulance arrived in the Corner, however, Hatun declined to be taken by it. Despite being severely shaken by the attack, within an hour Hatun was back preaching her message, showing once again her unquestionable determination and strength.
Freedom of speech is one of our most precious and important freedoms, and Speakers Corner has for over 150 years represented the home of this important aspect of the British culture. There is a concern amongst many, that this recent violence may result in the closure of the Corner. We must, however, never cave in to the bullies, to those who use violence, aggression and intimidation to enforce their views and opinions, to those who seem to struggle in accepting this important aspect of our culture. However offensive some may feel Hatun’s actions to be, she surely represents to the core the essence of what free speech is all about.
After the recent barbaric attack near Paris, the French Government and President are squarely confirming and reasserting the important aspects of their secular culture. We hope to see the same leadership in Britain, we will wait with baited breath.
The actual attack can be viewed here (warning graphic content): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hq7Z2AtR_Ug